Q. How do you know if a guy is more than a friend?
Rewind about six weeks. A guy acquaintance of mine reached out to me via Facebook messenger. He had posted something, and I casually commented on it. Next thing I knew, he started private messaging me. We met five years ago and became Facebook friends then. Haven’t seen each other or really talked until recently.
He invited me to hang out and we did. We had lots of laughs and got along real well. We continue to chat almost daily, have had a few FaceTime calls, daily texts to say hi (some flirty, some not), and phone calls while he is driving. We have continued to hang out a few times a week on average. We hang at his place or mine and watch movies. There has been nothing more than warm hugs each time we get together.
Except once I got a back rub.
He has been open and honest about a few personal issues he’s dealing with, and I have been supportive and offered encouragement as best as I can. We hung out four nights last week. He lives nearby, so it’s not like there are sleepovers or long drives home. Are we just friends? is there potential for a relationship to develop? Hard to tell if his shyness is preventing anything further from developing or he just needs a warm body to keep him company. It’s important to note that I am shy too and not good at having heart-to-heart conversations. Due to his ongoing personal issues, I am hesitant to cause him pressure or more stress at this time. I need help determining if he’s just a good person and wants to stay platonic or if his shyness is trying to tell me that he is interested in dating. Can you help me decode?
A. I can’t read his mind, but I can tell you there’s a way to ask for clarity without it feeling like a big conversation.
You don’t have to demand to know whether he’s falling in love with you. There is no reason to give a big speech about your own feelings. You can make the whole thing feel smaller by asking if one of these nights together can be considered a date. I know that takes courage, but you have it.
If he says no, that’s OK. You’ll have more information about what you’re doing — and how much time you should spend doing it. This is not a situation where you’ll ruin the friendship (I know that’s a common concern people have about disclosing feelings). If there’s really a platonic relationship worth having here, it’ll help you reset for that.
And if he does want more — or says he doesn’t know — you can let him know that the two of you can take it one decision at a time, and just see how it goes. It’s about whether he wants to try. Just one date. Sort of like what you do any other night, but with romantic intentions. It’s about potential.
For the record, I do believe two shy people can fall into this trap, where they get as far as a back rub and then think, “How did it end there! Again!” I don’t believe that if he wanted this to happen, it would have turned into something by now. Sometimes relationships are a slow burn. But you can speed this up — in either direction — with a simple ask.
What do you want? If you want things to become romantic, then make a move. If he says no, then you’ll know and won’t need to “decode” anything.
^Good question. In her letter she doesn’t even say anything about her feelings for him.
You sound very young, letter writer, so I’ll try to be kind, but it confounds me that you don’t see the obvious course of action. Ask yourself: Do I *want* to be romantic with this person? If so, ask him on a real date and tell him as much. It’s pretty clear he enjoys your company, no real secret there. If he balks at the idea of dating, then that’s you’re cue to level-set your expectations to friendship-only and decide just how much time you’re willing to invest. It’s not difficult.
Time to stop analyzing and walking on eggs. Use your words and act. I don’t care about all the issues for him and for you. Nobody’s perfect. You need to find out, because at this point it is stalled in the friend zone. ... Next time you see him late in the evening go in for a kiss and ask if he wants to be more than friends. If he’s all talk and teasing, back off on the hangouts and try to find men who want to date you.
I don’t know what specific personal issues he has, and if these specific issues have relevance to your being friend zoned so far. I also would guess that you both are a good deal younger than I am. That being said, at my age, besides companionship, I want a lasting romantic relationship and would not waste much time or emotional energy being just friends with a potential romantic partner. So my advice to you is to speed things up with him and not waste more time with him if he either rejects your advances and your discussion about this, or if he stalls and bids for more time.
Both of these characters are paralyzed by FOR (Fear of Rejection®). Someone needs to undo a zipper or a button, STAT.
Send your own relationship and dating questions to email@example.com. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.